Gjuro Prejac (1870-1936) was not just a composer but also a singer, choreographer, scene designer, librettist, actor and mime. One of 16 children of a schoolteacher in Desinic, in north-west Croatia, he studied in Zagreb and spent his career in or around the theatre there, chiefly as a singer, but also appearing in Vienna and Prague. He composed three operettas and many songs, several of which became popular.
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The village of his birth is some 60 km north of Zagreb, close to the Slovenian border. Nearby, on a large hill, is a castle, Veliki Tabor, with a fine double galleried courtyard, dating back to the 12th century though not completed until the 16th – and at the beginning of the 21st under heavy and urgently-needed restoration. One of its rooms, on the first floor, is dedicated to Prejac’s memory. The display there, if rather haphazard, gives some picture of his personality and his role in theatrical life. There is a large plaster bust, photographs of Prejac in costume and concert garb showing the range of his characterizations, his diploma, his mandolin, copies of his music and his 78 rpm recordings, and a pencil portrait of him from 1934 and a portrait in metal relief. There are some hopes of putting the room in better order in due course.